Business model not the only way to run VWOs

There have been calls by some people for charities to adopt business models for them to be viable.

The latest is a call made by Mr Jeffrey Law Lee Beng ("Run VWOs like businesses to raise their game"; yesterday).

If the concern is to enhance the quality of services provided by charities, what voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) need to do is not to blindly switch the way they have run their set-ups to the way one runs a business.

We cannot assume that the business model is a panacea for inefficiency.

There are successful businesses as well as businesses which have failed or are struggling.

What may be required for VWOs is for them to be guided by the pursuit of excellence in service.

That can be suicidal and may compromise the vision and mission of the charity.

We cannot assume that the business model is a panacea for inefficiency.

There are successful businesses as well as businesses which have failed or are struggling.

What may be required for struggling VWOs and those which might have lost their raison d'etre for continued existence is for them to be guided by the pursuit of excellence in service.

Of course, lessons can be borrowed from the business world, but the business model is not the only way to go.

Crucial to the running of any VWO is a clear vision of what it is that it was set up to do, as well as finding people of good character and who have a deep sense of public service to serve on the governing board of the VWO.

It helps to be able to recruit appropriate professional staff to run the charities, supported by a strong base of volunteers.

It helps, too, if government policies facilitate their work, and not make it more difficult.

Daniel Koh Kah Soon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2016, with the headline 'Business model not the only way to run VWOs'. Print Edition | Subscribe